The Journal, Monday, 5/22

Hey Folks,

During my morning reading, I hit upon an article titled “A Publisher Tries Podcasts As A Gateway To Audiobooks.”

I’d be interested in knowing what you think of this.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a podcast, perhaps as an extension of the June challenge. Maybe in July I’d read the short stories I wrote for the challenge in June. Something like that.

So whaddya think? Interesting? Something you’d listen to? Something you might want to try yourself? Something you already do?

The link to the article is in Of Interest.

***

Finished all the major moving and rearranging in my office yesterday. I’ve drastically downsized, but it’s a lot more comfortable. I don’t feel quite so much like I’m packed into my office when I’m in here now.

Remains the task of retraining my mind to my new writing space.

I put a lot of words very quickly, almost automatically, through my computer when I worked in the Hovel. That was mostly because my mind was trained for it.

My subconscious knew that when I went to the Hovel, it was time to play. Now that I’ve switched back up here, I have to create a new mindset to go along with the new space.

At the house, too, there are more distractions. So I have to create workarounds for those too.

I’m not complaining. Exploration and new discovery is fun or I wouldn’t be doing it. And at any time, I can always grab my writing ‘puter and head for the Hovel for awhile if I have to.

But being at the house alleviates other problems too, like the little girl isn’t as tempted to get out of the yard when I’m at the house. So I’m motivated to make the transition.

***

Well, my grandson Bryan called Job Corps this morning (his third “call in two weeks” phone call). Now they say Phoenix is still looking over his paperwork and they’ll call him.

If they can hold him off until his 23rd birthday, he’ll be ineligible because of his age. I’m beginning to think that’s what’s going on.

I told him to apply for a few jobs around. Thing is, unless he gets mega-lucky and staggers into a guy who’s willing to be patient and teach him a trade, his whole life is going to be working at fast food, Walmart, stuff like that.

It’s SO damned aggravating. I have a grandson who might be able to live an adequately self-sufficient life only if he gets very lucky. I can only hope the current situation with Job Corps isn’t the result of discrimination.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30 and per usual spent the first couple hours just messing around, waking up. Took a few pics and posted them to FB.

Then I spent about an hour grouping and arranging pics in a folder on my desktop.

I wrote off and on through the morning. I wrote at my outside desk under an umbrella, but couldn’t see the screen very well. The umbrella is not transparent, but light does get through.

I wrote at my inside desk, and that was fine, but new, so something I have to get used to.

And I wrote at a picnic table under a shade tree in a breeze. That was nice, but there’s no back support and the angle is wrong for computer work. So I could only do that for a little while.

Finally, a good day of writing. Crossed into novella territory today. Still in the middle of the book and no clue where it’s going, but man is it going. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “A Publisher Tries Podcasts As A Gateway To Audiobooks” at http://www.npr.org/2017/05/17/528730680/a-publisher-tries-podcasts-as-a-gateway-to-audiobooks.

From the Dumb Advice section of the PC vault, “Spy author Anthony Horowitz ‘warned off’ creating black character” at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39988992/.

At Dean’s place, see “A Response Letter…” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-response-letter/. A great little gem of a post.

Fiction Words: 3739
Nonfiction Words: 660 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4399

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698
Day 4…… 2612 words. Total words to date…… 11310
Day 5…… 2205 words. Total words to date…… 13515
Day 6…… 3739 words. Total words to date…… 17254

Total fiction words for the month……… 32668
Total fiction words for the year………… 280262
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11240
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 85930

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 366192

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 544 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Friday, 5/19

Hey Folks,

Well, I was relieved when yesterday’s Journal posted to my inbox shortly after 7 p.m. Remember you can always read the current or back issues of the Journal at http://harveystanbrough.com/category/daily-journal/.

Really looking forward to today, and the month is finally moving too fast. Hard to believe today is already Friday.

I have other life-roll things coming up, but thankfully they’re all in this month (so far, knock on wood). So June’s still a Go for the scene-by-scene short-story-per-day challenge.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Spent the first couple of hours with email and Facebook and reading on my computer.

Ate breakfast and otherwise just killed time for awhile.

Turned to the novel around 10, wrote for about an hour. It’s moving along fine.

Then I looked around and decided to make some more changes (minor ones) in my office. Good thing I’ve labeled this an “adjustment” month. (grin)

Then I went out for a cigar (left the ‘puter inside) and stepped into my backyard shed to get out of the wind so I could light up more easily.

I could barely get in there. Looked around. Excess garden tools, chunks of wood, etc. So I decided to clear out some things I very seldom use.

Two wagon-load trips to the Hovel (it’s also a large, long storage shed) and now the backyard shed is a lot neater.

1:30, back to the novel.

3:30, the novel’s still running well but I kind’a ran out of steam today.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

If you haven’t yet, take a few minutes to check out https://the-digital-reader.com/. I signed up awhile back for his daily newsletter. It isn’t always pertinent to me personally, but it’s always very informative.

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Nine” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-nine/.

Fiction Words: 2205
Nonfiction Words: 300 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2505

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698
Day 4…… 2612 words. Total words to date…… 11310
Day 5…… 2205 words. Total words to date…… 13515

Total fiction words for the month……… 28929
Total fiction words for the year………… 276523
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9880
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 84570

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 361093

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 541 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Thursday, 5/18

Hey Folks,

Huh. Not sure why MailChimp didn’t send last night’s post. Still, any hard-core followers went to the main site to check it out. The post was there.

I put it up at around 5:15. And it was tagged appropriately (Daily Journal category) so MailChimp should have sent it out at 7. Here’s hoping it’ll go out today. I’m posting this at 4:41.

There was no topic in yesterday’s post. The only matter of any real importance (probably) was my admonition to read the comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Eight.”

Some great comments. You can find that at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-eight/#comments/.

I have to hit the grocery this morning. Probably I’ll do that early. When I get back and get things put away, I should be able to write as much as I want.

Had an interesting thing happen yesterday with the novel. Right in the middle of it (well, short of that at around 8000 words), I wrote a chapter/scene that would also make an excellent beginning for a short story. Hmmm.

Topic: Bad Writing Habits Come in Degrees

In the email update from The Digital Reader, Nate points to “Bad Writing Habits and How to Break Them” (http://writerunboxed.com/2017/05/04/bad-writing-habits-and-how-to-break-them/.)

I didn’t put this in Of Interest because, frankly, it’s sideways advice.

It isn’t really good advice, except on the largest possible scale: Yes, it’s better to avoid bad writing habits.

But when it comes to specifics, it’s misleading at best and can be downright harmful, as evidenced by how rapidly the comments on that post deteriorated into counting repeated words, etc.

The main “bad writing habit” the author (Anna Elliott) cites is “how many times my characters nodded in agreement to something.”

She goes on to say “probably 90 percent of those nods were entirely unnecessary [so] I cut them.”

Okay, so be on the lookout for bad habits. Good advice on the surface.

But I was annoyed by that “nodded in agreement” thing. If everytime a character nodded in her book she followed “nodded” with a prepositional phrase (in agreement, in acceptance, etc.) THAT might have been what was boring the audio guy to tears.

“He nodded” or “she nodded” or “character-name nodded” is a ton less intrusive than “he nodded in agreement.”

Folks, every time ANYONE nods, it’s “in agreement.”

I’ve seen writers write “he nodded yes” and “he shook his head no.” But the fact is, every time anyone nods, it means yes. Every time they shake their head, it means no.

I’ve also seen them write “he shrugged his shoulders” (what else is he gonna shrug?).

I’ve seen them write all sorts of other bodily motions and then double-down with an in-sentence explanation of why the character made that motion.

Silliness. “If you want to stop a bad writing habit, how about cutting out the unnecessary explanation?” he said, with a voice that sounded as if exasperation were dripping off his tongue because he was so annoyed with the question.

And in the course of the comments following the article, I foresee a whole group of writers “experimenting” with cutting out ALL instances of “nodded” and “shrugged.” And if those are gone, can “gestured” or “smiled” or “grinned” or “laughed” or “chuckled” be far behind?

The answer to all of this is simple, of course. If your character nods (shrugs, smiles, grins, giggles, gestures, etc.) in response to another character saying something, write “He (or John or she) nodded.” Then continue with his/her verbal response if there is one.

“He nodded” is a short, quick narrative that enables the reader to see an action from the character. And it isn’t “unnecessary” if, at that place in the scene, the character nodded.

Not to even mention it’s over in a blink. 99% of readers don’t even notice it.

“He nodded in agreement,” on the other hand, is plodding, ugly and repetitive. It needs major surgery, as in cutting away half of it.

But once you slash away the truly “unnecessary” part, your reader won’t be nodding off. (See what I did there?)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30.

Around 6 I headed for the store. When I got back, my wife met me outside. Seems my kitten had brought in a baby bird. It was a nestling, but with feathers and barely able to fly.

It was unharmed. I cuddled the little thing in my palm, took it to the back fence, gave it a good scolding and opened my hand. It just looked up at me.

I petted it with my index finger and said quietly, “Go on.” It flew to the ground about ten feet away. So a happy ending.

After all that I put away the stuff I bought, then visited Facebook while I ate a quick breakfast. Then I came here to write all this stuff.

Wow. Slow day so far. I sat down at the novel at around 10:30 but I just didn’t feel comfortable. Know what I mean? Uneasy for some reason.

I wrote a little, put the water on the yard and later moved it. Wrote some more, then did some other little stuff. Moved out to the Hovel with a cigar at around noon. I’m more comfortable out there. Kept pecking at the novel.

A little cycling but nothing major in that regard. Writing mostly brand new stuff, but at 1:30 (three hours after I started) only one new scene and a few touch-ups. A little over 1000 words.

Well, a good couple of hours, but I seem unable to break over a 3,000 word day. (grin) That’s okay. Novel’s coming along.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

For those of you who, like me, either missed or chose not to attend the Branding online workshop, see Business Musings: How To Build A Brand: The Early Stages at http://kriswrites.com/2017/05/17/business-musings-how-to-build-a-brand-the-early-stages-brandingdiscoverability/. I guess she’s going to do a series of these.

To catch up and read Kris’ first blog on branding, see http://kriswrites.com/2017/05/10/business-musings-types-of-brands-brandingdiscoverability/.

While we’re on the topic, check out Raoul Davis’ “7 Keys to Building a Successful Brand” at https://businesscollective.com/7-keys-to-building-a-successful-brand/.

And at Dean’s place, see “Too Much Other Stuff” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/too-much-other-stuff/.

Fiction Words: 2612
Nonfiction Words: 1020 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3632

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698
Day 4…… 2612 words. Total words to date…… 11310

Total fiction words for the month……… 26724
Total fiction words for the year………… 274318
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 84270

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 358588

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 540 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Wednesday, 5/17

Hey Folks,

Well, May is more than half-gone. I almost added “already,” but around here that isn’t really the case. The month thus far has seemed to drag by.

I was dawdling much of the morning. Still not happy with my office, so I adjusted the furniture again and ended up putting it all back.

What I need is a desk that’s around 4 feet wide and around 2 feet deep. (My old one was 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep.)

I’m very happy with my writing table. But the table I’ve been using for a desk is an odd shape. It’s fat in a deep-but-not-wide kind of way, so it’s awkward in my office.

But it’ll all work out.

Started the water on the yard and started a load of laundry. Richard came back with the glued door and we hung that.

Now the rest of the day is mine, minus time out to work on the laundry and other stuff now and then.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 4. Just didn’t want to get up. For me, that’s weird and kind of a bad start to the day. We’ll see what I can do to smooth out the rest of it.

Did all of the stuff above up until around 9, then played on Facebook awhile to catch up.

9:30, to the novel, wrote off and on. I wrote, I folded clothes, put them away. Put in another load.

Wrote, filled the hummingbird feeders.

Wrote, put the clothes in the dryer. Set up bags and water for a gallon of sun tea. Moved the water in the yard.

Wrote, folded clothes, put them away. Developed a headache along the way somewhere. Now it’s 1:20 and I just moved to the outside desk with a cigar and the novel.

Not a good day of writing, but not bad.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Please see the comments on “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Eight.” Absolutely mind-boggling. http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-eight/#comments.

Fiction Words: 2961
Nonfiction Words: 340 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3301

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698

Total fiction words for the month……… 24112
Total fiction words for the year………… 271706
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8560
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 83250

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 354956

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 539 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Tuesday, 5/16

Hey Folks,

Well, kind of a mixed bag today. I did a lot of non-writing stuff and still managed to knock out almost 3000 words. Details below.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4. Still catching up on my sleep, I think.

By 5:30 I’d had my coffee and read everything I recommended to you below in “Of Interest” plus some other stuff.

Around 7 I went to the grocery and was back by 8. Around 9 I went to the poor, doorless Hovel and wrote for a little while. Back to the house after a cigar.

Wrote a little more while I was up here. At 10, back to the Hovel.

Wrote for a couple of hours, then spent time off and on with my friend (and landlord) Richard as he worked to get the swamp cooler on the roof running. Did it myself in years past, but my back doesn’t allow me up ladders anymore.

Around 3, back to writing for awhile.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Book Bundling for Authors” at http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/05/15/ebook-bundling/.

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Eight” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-eight/.

More interesting stuff below that at “Again A Busy Day” (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/again-a-busy-day/).

Fiction Words: 2986
Nonfiction Words: 190 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3176

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737

Total fiction words for the month……… 21151
Total fiction words for the year………… 268745
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8220
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 82910

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 351655

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 538 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

A Personal Challenge and an Invitation

Hi Folks,

I set myself a personal challenge. For the month of June, I want to write a new short story every day. That’s tough enough.

But in addition to that, I want to write those stories truly “in public.” I want the public to be able to watch virtually as the stories grow, scene to scene.

To that end, in the original challenge, I was going to paste each scene to a Facebook page I set up just for that purpose.

Only a couple days ago, my conscious mind wheedled its way in and I lost control. I decided maybe it would be better to post the whole story (albeit still once a day) to the Facebook page.

I reasoned that (1) apparently there weren’t many folks all that interested and (2) those who were interested would still see the end product each day, follow my progress on the challenge, etc.

But then Robert J. Sadler, a dear friend in Texas, pointed out to me in an email that, frankly, I was chickening out. (grin)

And he was right. (Friends respect each other enough to tell each other the truth. In my world, that’s the main qualifier to earn the title.)

In part of his note to me, he wrote

“…I can understand if the prospect of no story-starved pedestrians standing outside the window seems a reasonable reason for not implementing your challenge.

“That said, you made a point that this was your challenge and not issued to anyone other than yourself. So with that perspective in mind, whether the tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it, the tree still falls. …

“So … if you wanna write-in-public, as you suggest, then knock yourself out… even if there is no public to witness it.”

Or as Yoda put it, “There is no try. Do or do not.”

And the epiphany?

Writing scenes has always been easy for me. Scenes pop into my head all the time, complete with characters, setting, dialogue and so on. So I can write scenes all day.

But with my conscious mind creeping in, I allowed myself to “hope” the scenes would connect well and the characters would lead me through to the end.

And that’s what I was doing wrong without realizing it. That whole “hope” thing.

Once I replaced “hope” with “trust” (thanks to my friend’s email), everything else fell into place.

So the challenge is back on, in its original form. Beginning on June 1, I will write one short story per day for the month. Each time I finish a scene, I’ll paste it “live” to Facebook so whoever wants to can see it.

But my friend was right. It’s my challenge. I’m not challenging others to do something similar, though if they do, it’s all right by me. I’m not even challenging others to watch.

I’m only challenging myself to give others something to watch.

If they watch and enjoy, wonderful. If they don’t, it will still be one hell of an experience. (grin)

By the way, if you want to follow along on this madness, visit https://www.facebook.com/HarveyStanbroughWritingInPublic/. There’s already some preliminary stuff there. The fun begins on June 1. If you have friends who might be interested, please feel free to share this post.

‘Til next time, happy writing!
Harvey

PS: If you enjoy great photography and great fiction, stop by Robert J. Sadler’s website at http://robertjsadler.com/ and browse. You won’t be disappointed.

The Journal, Monday, 5/15

Hey Folks,

Back to writing sometime today. Maybe a short story, maybe a novel start (or both).

I also have in mind two good series characters. Each has a great name and a strong personality. One is male and one female. Not because I want to keep things equal, but because that’s who they are.

I also have some other pressing things to do, not the least of which is extending the roof of the carport to provide additional shade for my wife’s new car.

You can’t live in southeast Arizona and avoid exposure to a severe sun, but you can mitigate the effects. Or you can try.

Confidential to Robert: Thanks for the encouragment. It’s all good. (grin)

***

I realized this morning I no longer have a writing routine. The past two weeks has been more disruptive than I initially thought it would, beginning with re-doing my office and followed by a lot of little life rolls.

There was the office rebuild, then the broken axle, then Mona’s medical thing, then the new car search and the visit from the kids.

Routine is important to me. It’s how I do things. Not a schedule so much, but a routine. So I need to reestablish that. I’ll start working on that today.

I need to make writing a priority again. Not make “the writing” important, but make writing important.

***

Okay, to the list of stuff above beginning with the office rebuild, we can now add putting a new door on the Adobe Hovel. (grin)

Around 2:45 I stepped out of the Hovel to head up to the house for another break and the door of the Hovel was laying about ten feet away. Wind got it. I guess I was so deep in the current story I didn’t notice.

I had the door blocked open, so the air currents didn’t change when the door headed for Deming. Anyway, thus began the search for another door for the Hovel.

The landlord had a lot of 30″ doors, but they were all interior doors. So he’s going to try to glue the old one back together. (As if he didn’t have enough on his plate.)

In the meantime, I’ve been wanting to get reaccustomed to writing up at the house anyway with summer coming on. So maybe this will be a blessing in disguise.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 4. I caught up on my sleep a bit last night after what was a very tiring and trying 10 days or so.

Around 10 I finished up the carport stuff I was doing, and around 11:30 I headed out to the Hovel to write.

12:30 a break up at the house to update this stuff and grab some lunch.

Another break around 1:30, then the final break of the day at 2:45. See above.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s, “One Time Branding Workshop” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/one-time-branding-workshop/.

Here’s to writing off into the dark. See “Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/05/your-brain-can-only-take-so-much-focus/.

And good ol’ California strikes again. See “California threatens to shut down book signings and therefore small booksellers” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/05/california-threatens-to-shut-down-book-signings-and-therefore-small-booksellers/.

Fiction Words: 2751
Nonfiction Words: 500 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3251

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751

Total fiction words for the month……… 18165
Total fiction words for the year………… 265759
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8030
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 82720

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 348479

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 537 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

Suction Cups

Disraeli Jones was in a bad way. He sat on the white marble floor in the lobby in the Hampton Arms.

His right leg was splayed at an angle out from his body. His left leg was the same way to the knee, but there it bent back toward his right. The sole of his left shoe pressed against the inside of the right leg of his trousers just above the knee.

His back was against the wall, his shoulders round and sagging. His arms, along with the lapels of his jacket, framed his bulging yellow shirt. His hands lay palms-up on his lap. His hat lay on the floor at his side, and his head was slumped to his chest.

The light from the lone chandelier glistened on his slick bald head. Short, wavy red hair formed a horseshoe from above one ear and around his head to the other.

He appeared to be asleep.

At this time of night, there was no one around to make a judgement. Any guests were long since asleep. If the desk clerk was at his station, he was being very discreet about it.

Each time Jones inhaled, it seemed an effort. The air came as if it were a rope, being pulled, inch by inch, past his lips and into his lungs. His chin quavered slightly with every breath, and he made a sound like a cat scratching on a post.

Each time he exhaled it was a quiet moan wrapped in a sigh, and his thick chest and abdomen trembled slightly.

He slowly raised his head, winced with the pain, and looked across the lobby at the double entrance doors.

There was no doorman either. That was better.

The doorman’s station, a dark mahogany pedestal to the left of the door, began to waver. Time was short.

Jones allowed his head to drop again, but this time under his control.

A few inches below his face, on top of his abdomen, fabric strained away in both directions from a shirt button. The button was brown.

He frowned.

Shouldn’t the buttons be yellow, like the shirt?

To the left and closer, another, larger brown spot. Small, frothy bubbles around the edge.

Lung shot. Probably a lung shot.

If he still smoked, he could cover it with the cellophane from the pack. That’s what they taught him in the army.

It was nonsense, of course. How would you patch the hole in the back?

After that lecture, back in the barracks, he joked with his buddies, “It’s silly. It just gives you somethin’ to think about while you’re dyin’.”

They all laughed.

In the lobby, leaning against the wall, he shook his head slightly.

Come on back to now.

He raised his head again, opened one eye.

He could make it to the door.

He drew another breath, then another, filling himself with air.

He grunted slightly, hunched and all at once leaned his shoulders forward, with force. He did it again, then again.

Each time his shoulders bumped the wall, he hunched them again, propelled himself forward.

Each time he leaned over a little farther, gaining momentum.

Finally he rocked across the fulcrum of his knee. The palms of his hands, fingers splayed, splatted against the marble floor.

Behind him on the wall was a large, bright red splotch. Alongside it in three steps, three more bright red marks.

He swung his right leg around, brought his right knee up, began crawling toward the door.

A third of the way across the lobby, he thought of his gun.

His holster was there. But it felt light.

Naked.

Probably they took it.

Probably they tugged it from his holster when they sat him down.

The guy who tugged it out would glance at it, slip it into his jacket pocket to toss it into the river later on.

But they wouldn’t drop that one in the river. That one wasn’t a throw-away.

The guy who did the deed would catch a glimpse. He’d say quietly, “Hey, whaddya got there?”

Jones’ mind swayed for a moment. He reached for the wavering floor with his left hand, kept moving forward.

It was like the captain said the first time he brought the pistol to the range. “Hey, whaddya got there, Dee?”

And Jones grinned. He dropped the magazine into his left palm, racked the slide and locked it back, and passed it to the captain over a grin. “Kimber .45.” He laughed. “‘Cause you know, they don’t make a .46.”

The captain took it, held it reverently in his right palm. He rolled it over, let the slide go home. He turned, aimed it downrange, tested the heft, the balance.

Then he racked the slide, locked it back, and handed it back to Jones. “Hey, ain’t that something? I always heard these were the thing, eh?”

Today, another guy would say, “Whaddya got there?”

And the guy who took it from his holster would stop just short of his pocket

He’d stop and he’d roll the pistol over in his hand. He’d lean his ugly, pinched, pockmarked face close to read the stamp on the slide. Then he’d look up and frown. “Kimber?” he’d say. “Is that even a thing?”

Jones was almost halfway across the floor when his right elbow quavered.

He looked up.

The single column in the room. It rose from the floor to the ceiling of the lobby.

Two stories, right?  Yeah, two stories.

The column was to his right front. Only a few feet away.

So he was only a few feet short of halfway across.

He stopped for a moment, supporting himself on his left hand and his knees. He lifted his right arm, flexed his elbow once.

He thought again of the hood, rolling his Kimber in his hand. Thought of him saying, “Is that even a thing?”

Yeah, genius. It’s a thing.

His left wrist went weak and something slapped him on the left side of his face.

Wakin’ me up. My friend, wakin’ me up.

He drew a heavy breath, focused all his attention on his right arm.

The right arm’s gimpy. The right elbow.

With the slap still pressing against the left side of his face, he focused on that right arm. He dragged his right hand forward, the back of his fingers sweeping across the floor.

But at the end of the reach, they flipped up from beneath his hand.

Just like they’re supposed to.

His palm made contact.

He focused. Focused on everything. Focused on doing what he had to do.

He shook his head, but he wasn’t sure it actually moved side to side. The slap was still stuck to the left side.

Strange. Do slaps do that?

Who slapped me anyway?

But while his head was up, he glanced at the door.

Still a ways to go. Still a ways.

Back to business.

He focused. He focused on a knee, then the other hand. Then the other knee.

My right knee, right?

Then the other knee, and then his left.

He’d make it. He’d make it to the doors.

The car is there. Right there.

Parked outside. Along the curb.

The slap still stuck to his face, he glanced up to look at the door.

Didn’t I? Didn’t I look at the door?

Yeah I did.

He glanced at the door and it slid sideways.

Oops. That ain’t right.

It swung back into place.

He frowned.

Better focus.

He thought of his fingertips. He was pulling himself along on his fingertips, right?

Focus. Knee, fingertips. Other knee, fingertips.

Fingertips. Tips of the fingers.

Good design. The little mounds there. On the fingertips. They’re supposed to be for suction, right? Like holdovers from when we were amphibians? Somethin’ like that?

He’d heard that somewhere.

Then another thought hit him.

It felt like another slap. Almost. Only the first slap was still there. It was cool on his cheek.

Something about that was funny.

But it was a thought.

A thought slapped me. Where’s that thought? It was a thought, right? A thought.

He let his eyes close and looked at the door. He was over halfway. The column was behind him to his right, and he didn’t even remember moving past it. And he didn’t have to look to know it was there.

He’d make it to the doors. And his car was right outside. Right alongside the curb.

There’s the thought. It came again. The other thought like the one about the suction cups. The other thought. The one about cellophane.

He frowned.

They got somethin’ in common.

What is it? What they got in common?

What was the other thought?

There was the cellophane thought, whatever that was, and then—

Somethin’— somethin’ to do with suction cups, or somethin’.

Oh. Cellophane to stop a sucking chest wound.

He tried to grin, turned up the right corner of his mouth.

And then suction cups, so that’s like a suckin’ chest wound. Or somethin’. They both suck. That’s what they got in common. They both suck. One sucks air and one— One sucks stuff you’re grippin’.  That’s what— what they—

No. Nah, that ain’t it.

Just silly thoughts. They got nothin’ to do with anything.

“Just,” he said, barely above a whisper. “Just somethin’.”

The captain looked at his Kimber. “Whaddya got there, Dee? Well now ain’t that somethin’!”

“Just somethin’,” Jones said again.

Blood frothed on his lips.

The thought was slipping away. Both thoughts. Slipping away together.

Hold on.

Suction. Suction cups. Suckin’ chest wound. Suction cups.

“Ahh, that’s— that’s what they got— common.”

The corner of his mouth turned up again.

Suction cups an’ fingertips.

He looked up at the door again, his eyes still closed.

Hey, it didn’t waver this time.

And he was close. He was almost there.

Suction cups. Apply the suction cups on your fingertips. Get there, man!

His car was right there at the curb.

Sucked up against the curb.

He looked up at the door again. Almost there.

Suction cups on your fingers. Silly. Suckin’ chest wound. And cellophane. Somethin’ about—

Oh. Cellophane— to seal a suckin’ chest wound. Silly. How you gonna seal the back?

But that’s it. That’s what it is.

Suction cups on your fingertips. Cellophane on a suckin’ chest wound.

His army buddies faded in, grinning. They wavered.

“Yeah,” he said. He laughed, trying to get their attention. “See? Hey, see? Suction cups on your fingertips. Here. Right here.”

He stood and held up both hands, showing them the part he was talking about. “See? An’ then sealin’ a suckin’ chest wound with cellophane. See?”

He slapped his chest hard. “See? Right there. That’s where it’d go on me. Only it don’t work, see. That’s the joke. Just— just somethin’ to keep you entertained— while you’re dyin’.”

What a cool thought. And it slapped him on the left side of his face.

No, a cold thought. What a cold thought.

He wanted to look at the door again.

Open your eyes this time. Look with your eyes this time.

But his left eye didn’t want to open.

He opened his right eye.

It closed.

He opened it again. Opened it wide.

Frowned.

The column.

The column was just ahead of him a few feet.

Oh. Oh yeah.

Got it.

* * * * * * *

 

The Journal, Wednesday, 5/10

Hey Folks,

Today I worked on various things around the house, mailed out two packages of books.

One was a collection, the full set of The Formalist, a twice-monthly poetry magazine, to my eldest granddaughter.

The Formalist was a very nice, perfect-bound journal that lasted ten or twelve years. I was fortunate to have some of my poetry appear in it alongside some big-name poets.

The other mailing was a full set of the Wes Crowley series. It will be auctioned off in a silent auction at my high school reunion next month. (Yeah, mailing that one was fun.)

If anyone out there is interested, you can now get the full set of the Wes Crowley novels in paper. But if you are interested, write me for details. The full set (in paper) if bought anywhere else would run you just under $150. If you get them direct from StoneThread Publishing, I provide a substantial discount.

***

Everybody has good days and bad days. I’ve had a string of the latter lately. I’m not complaining, just explaining. No worries. I’ll come out the other side.

Even Robert Heinlein himself said he’d broken his own rules several times. I just keep telling myself this is a transition month and it’s all right.

I added a little over 1700 words to The Storm today. But honestly, the thing just feels stalled.

Unless lightning strikes today or tonight, I’m going to set it aside and move on to something else.

In the meantime, I’m taking the rest of today off. Hoping all this life-roll stuff settles out soon.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Took care of all the stuff above, then started writing on The Storm at around 10:30. Why? Heinlein’s Rule #2.

In fact, I was so busy with all that other stuff that I didn’t even think to check Dean’s site or update this Journal until a break at around 12:30.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s, “Ticking Clocks,” on various offers that will expire soon. If you’re interested, take a look at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ticking-clocks/. Otherwise, skip it. Not even a daily update today.

Fiction Words: 1735
Nonfiction Words: 360 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 360

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486
Day 4…… 3172 words. Total words to date…… 12658
Day 5…… 1021 words. Total words to date…… 13679
Day 6…… 1735 words. Total words to date…… 15414 (stalled)

Total fiction words for the month……… 15414
Total fiction words for the year………… 263008
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5360
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 80050

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 343058

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 532 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Friday, 5/5

Hey Folks,

Happy Cinco de Mayo if that’s your thing.

I’m making some major changes in my routine as I move toward June and the big challenge. (Big challenge because one new story every day plus posting every scene, scene by scene, on Facebook “in public.” Plus remember I’ll still need to write a novel for June as well.)

I’ve decided to overhaul my office, for one thing. The desk I have currently is massive at 3 1/2 feet deep by 5 feet wide. That’s in an office that’s about 10 x 10. It’s maple and beautiful, but….

I love that desk (the drawers are as deep as the desk is), but it’s the wrong height for a keyboard. So other than serving as a kitten landing pad and a storage area, it’s not good.

So I’m gonna bite the bullet, sell the desk, and downsize. For today, I’ll move the desk out, store it, and see what happens afterward. Now, while I have time, is the time to experiment.

I’ll bring my short, tiny desk up from the Hovel, and I’ll probably bring my wire outside desk in as well. One will hold my writing ‘puter and one will hold the business computer.

The little girl won’t be overly pleased (the office has been configured this way since she was an infant), but she’ll get used to it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4 again. Too much TV.

Messed around much of the morning. Grandson and I moved the big desk out to the Hovel and moved the little one into my office. I won’t go into details, but this was a major undertaking.

Moved my outside desk in too, but I might move it back out. All of that was done by 11:30. Then I started the water on the yard, at lunch, etc. Around 1:30, to the novel for awhile.

Well, I played with it for a bit, but my office is still on my mind. I’m gonna stop for the day, finish what I have to do in here, and get back to more writing tomorrow.

See you then.

Of Interest

“I’m Breaking Up With Grammarly” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/05/04/im-breaking-grammarly/. (I never cared for things like this in the first place.)

Some good comments on “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Seven” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-seven/#comments.

I urge you to read “Thirty-One Years Ago Today.” It’s much more than a look back. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/thirty-one-years-ago-today/.

Fiction Words: 1021
Nonfiction Words: 360 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1381

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486
Day 4…… 3172 words. Total words to date…… 12658
Day 5…… 1021 words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 13679
Total fiction words for the year………… 261273
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2850
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 77540

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 338813

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 527 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167